We at Mach37 have decided to modify the terms of our initial investment in each company in our Spring 2014 cohort to double our financial commitment to $50,000. This additional financial investment will not only help Mach37 entrepreneurs attract complementary team members, but also will provide them with additional resources necessary to expand target market validation and further accelerate technology development.
Earlier this month, Mach37 completed its first Cybersecurity Investor Demo Day. Along with six CIT GAP Fund cybersecurity entrepreneurs, our four F13 (Fall 2013) cohort participants presented their companies to an audience of over 100 information security investors. By all accounts, their presentations were successful and I believe they foreshadow many future successes by Roy Stephan (PierceGTI), David Lehrer (Conatix), Ethan Allen (Sikernes) and Shawn Key (Key Cybersecurity).
As I think about each of their presentations, it seems almost unfair that they were limited to eight minutes each. The brevity of a demo day pitch belies the immense amount of work each of these entrepreneurs delivered over the past four months. As anyone who has ever built an effective investor pitch will attest, the significant majority of the work is conducted weeks and months ahead of time.
Roy, David, Ethan and Shawn sprinted through Mach37’s 14-week curriculum: Fully analyzing their competitive environments; effectively positioning their respective product concepts; developing unique technical capabilities; and generating significant market validation from target market customers. As all four of them will attest, the Mach37 program is not for the uncommitted.
Based on our collective observations from F13 and the amount of work delivered by its entrepreneurs, the partners at Mach37 want to make an important recommendation to future Mach37participants: Find capable, full-time partners.
To encourage future applicants to find complementary partners, we are placing a greater emphasis on having multiple founders as part of our core selection criteria.
The amount of effort required to develop and implement a business concept over a brief 14-week period while also designing and delivering a functional prototype is more work than one full-time founder can reasonably manage. The best founding teams usually include full-time technical and entrepreneurial founders, all of whom understand the customer problem they are solving and how to share responsibility as they build their respective businesses.